WCO COUNCIL COMMITTED TO SECURING AND PROMOTING ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS

Heads of Customs administrations representing the 177 Members of the World Customs Organization (WCO) met in Brussels, Belgium from 28-30 June 2012 for the 119th/120th Sessions of the WCO Council, under the expert direction of Josephine Feehily, the Chair of the Council and Chairman of the Irish Customs and tax administration. 

This year the Council, the Organization’s highest decision-making body, focused on a number of key issues, including evolving and emerging risks, supply chain security, trade facilitation, revenue assurance, Globally Networked Customs, the trade in illicit and dangerous goods, and most importantly, ensuring growth by securing and promoting economic competitiveness. 

Members of the Council also recognized the critical role played by capacity building, research, knowledge promotion and the sharing of intelligence and information, as well as the necessity for well-coordinated international cooperation that would ensure non-duplication of efforts and promote existing trade management tools, leading to better coordinated border management. 

The importance and relevance of the WCO’s Harmonized System (international goods nomenclature), as well as the Organization’s work in relation to valuation and origin of goods, was acknowledged by Council delegates, who underscored the value of these core Customs activities that play an instrumental role in the stable management of cross-border trade. 

Gracing this year’s sessions, as part of the WCO’s 60th anniversary celebrations, was HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium who presented a painting to the WCO on behalf of the Belgian Government and people, in recognition of the long association between Belgium and the WCO, which has been headquartered in Brussels since its establishment in 1952. 

Keynote speakers at the annual sessions included Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Steven Vanackere, Belgium’s Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), all of whom acknowledged the key role of Customs in managing global trade. 

Delegates observed the WCO Secretary General sign Memoranda of Understanding with the International Road Transport Union (IRU) to strengthen relations with the private sector, with China Customs to establish a Regional Drug Dog Training Centre, and with Fiji Customs to establish a Regional Training Centre (RTC). 

The Council also witnessed Nigeria and the Dominican Republic deposit their instruments of accession to the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (simplification and harmonization of Customs procedures), and the signing of an agreement between China and Singapore, mutually recognizing each other’s Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs). 

Following the re-election of Josephine Feehily as Chairperson of the Council, the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, said, “I am pleased that we will continue to benefit from Josephine Feehily’s experience, results-oriented approach and ability to lead strategic change, which is of tremendous value to the Members and Secretariat of the WCO.” 

Panama was awarded the 2012 WCO Yolanda Benitez Trophy for its commitment to combating counterfeiting and piracy, with a special prize going to Serbia for its activities in this domain, while Slovakia won the annual WCO Photo Competition for its photo showing a full-time Customs officer on duty at the frontier in 1941 with his daughter on his lap. 

“Directors General of Customs charted a clear path ahead for the next twelve months”, said the Secretary General of the WCO. “The Secretariat will ensure that its activities and work programmes are closely aligned with the Strategic Plan adopted by WCO Members, in order to deliver positive results and meet the expectations of Customs administrations” he added. 

 

 

Culled from: WCO website 
30th June, 2012 

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